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Staff Awareness of Hospital Charges

Fred S. White, MD; David E. Trachtenbarg, MD
JAMA. 1981;245(14):1409-1410. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310390017005.
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To the Editor.—  Cost containment and the rising cost of medical care is a national issue. While physicians' fees are only a small percentage of health care spending, physicians order tests and services that account for more than one half of health care expenditures. Previous studies have concluded that few physicians know the correct prices of items they order, and their estimated costs are lower than actual charges.1-4 Because of this it has been alleged that physicians do not order tests in a financially responsible manner.A recent hospital staff survey pointed toward conclusions different from these frequently leveled charges. The study method was simple—asking staff members to estimate prices for frequently ordered services and tests at our hospital. Following this quiz, the estimates were collected, and correct answers were distributed. The same process was again repeated two months later. While the sample was small and confined to the


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